Working from home can definitely be a blessing and a curse. Whether you are telecommuting, freelancing, or self-employed, working from home can be a sweet deal. In most cases you have the convenience of no work commute, you save on clothing and dry-cleaning bills, and you don’t have to buy $15 lunches in the city. Yes, the lure of the TV and the couch is there, but those are too easy to avoid if you set up a distraction-free work station and make a good night of sleep a priority.
The flip-side of working from home: you are most likely working more than you should because the boundaries between your work life and home life are totally blurred. Are you in your pajamas on that morning conference call? Are you working until midnight and then up at 7 a.m. working again? Then the lines are probably blurred.
What can you do to maximize your time when you work at home?
1. Take a shower and get dressed. Working in your flannels may be comfy, but it also keeps you in a relaxed, non-work state-of-mind. It all starts with the moment you wake up and a fresh mind and body will set you in the right direction.
2. Define your work space. A couch is not going to do it. A desk and comfortable chair–ideally in a separate room–will make working in your home feel official. Keep the area neat and have all the supplies you’ll need for the day. There’s nothing like having to run to Staples to totally throw your work-day off track.
3. Set work hours. Because you work at home, doesn’t mean that you’re available 24/7. Make a list of the tasks you need to get done and check them off as completed. Set a schedule and stick to it, otherwise you’ll get caught in the work/home no-boundary zone. Another good tip is setting times when you are online, you don’t always need to be available to chat, which can also zap your productivity.
4. Take care of yourself. Don’t skip meals and stay hydrated with water. Also, give yourself breaks. Are the folks at the office sitting at their computers for eight hours straight? Probably not, so make sure to take 15 minutes for every hour or so of work.
5. Know when to stop. Don’t end up letting work run your life. Over-working can also cause you to sacrifice quality for quantity. When it comes down to it, hopefully your employer will be happier with you delivering a great product over knowing that you were up sending out emails until 2 a.m.